Michael Ryan Kravetsky

‘Tried & True Musicians’ – Profiling The Mercury Brothers

Let’s ease into all things Mercury Brothers, shall we?

New Jersey is home to many of our favorite artists, but there is always room for one more. The Mercury Brothers are just that – another favorite for you to have and share when asked about your favorite Garden State bands. They are proud of their roots, connected to each other, and knee deep in the community that shapes both their personal taste in music and the music they make. It’s not rough, edgy rock and roll, just honest in its catchy, fearless, raw nature. The Mercury Brothers are cultivating a sound that takes a little bit of themselves, a little bit of their community, and a little of earnest collaboration to make; the outcome is something original, special, and easily repurposed for the local stages they take over. (You see, there are many reasons they are proud of what they release, and just as many reasons as to why we have been listening.)

There are already more than a handful of chances to catch these open-minded DIY rockers live in the New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania areas before summer is in full swing (and while we are all riding the high of their latest fire-starter of a thought-provoking single). IE: SPRINGTICIPATION Festival at Asbury Park’s Berkeley Hotel this Saturday, Rahway Yacht Club on March 30, The Wonder Bar on April 13, NJ’s Second Annual NORTH 2 SHORE Festival on June 14, the Dublin House in Red Bank on June 22, and John & Peter’s in New Hope the following week.

To set our own stage for The Mercury Brothers, we spoke with one of their one: Michael Mazza.

Being as much of a musician as you are a fan of music, do you have any favorite local venues that you like to go see bands at? Or even be hosted at if you’re performing? This month alone you have shows in Red Bank, Rahway, and Asbury Park, New Jersey!

Let me think about that… I think that one of my favorite places to go see live music in Asbury Park would be Low Dive, which was formerly known as the Asbury Park Yacht Club.

Good choice.

Just because it’s such a small and intimate room, there are no frills, and you never really know what you’re gonna get when you walk in. It’s one of those venues that you could just be strolling along the boardwalk and come across, pop in and happen to find a band that you’ve never heard of or a DJ hosting that night. It’s always a surprise there.

Also, when they did the sort of rebrand with Low Dive, I was first attracted to the font of their logo on the wall. It felt very just artsy and cool, but without being pretentious. It caught my attention and that attention has never wavered.

Yeah! I think the rebranding of Low Dive totally worked right out of the gate.

Completely agree; I’m glad you chose it as one of your favorites. One of my old favorites was The Saint.

You know, I was actually thinking about listing The Saint, but it has since closed. If we could give The Saint an honorable mention that would be great.

Everyone loved it there. You played there a bunch, I believe. Is that right?

Plenty of times. We’ve played there quite a bit and we’ve actually opened up a couple for some really cool shows there. One that we opened up for was Rayland Baxter. It was like an after party. We had a really good relationship with Scott from The Saint, so whenever he needed a last minute band, he would hit me up and ask us. We just had the a really professional, yet casual relationship with him that was definitely mutually beneficial.

That’s awesome! There is something for everyone having you guys there, so have had a great working relationship with them and playing those shows gave your music even more exposure. You’re filling a slots, sure, and it might have not even been your direct crowd, but you’re hitting a lot of different people in those off-the-cuff moments, and that’s exciting.

Yeah! It’s pretty cool because we don’t seem to fit in a very specific niche. I think there are a lot of bands in Asbury that I do love and are their own niche, but they mostly play with bands that sound like them. That’s all well and good, but it seems that for us, we have been fitting into these slots or bills with bands that sound a little different from us and it’s gone a long way. We’re playing with a bluegrass band coming at The Wonder Bar called Dark City Strings.That is totally outside of the realm of our normal forté. It’s honestly for the greater good of creative expression, you know what I mean? It’s for the greater good of the show, because people wanna consume new music and art, and the best way to do that is to have different bands playing that you’re not familiar with. It can be really important.

To that point, you know, I was listening to your new single “The Fight” and heard influences of everything from original singer-songwriters to the early 2000s scene bands like Phantom Planet Bands and Jimmy Eat World, things like that.

Oh, thank you. You hit the nail right on the head; we definitely like to lean into that like early 2000s alternative rock sound, which is fun. I hear bands playing pop punk and all that kind of stuff, but this is a little different. We have a little bit more in there, like Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, and more alternative influences. It’s just fun to listen to.

I love that, and “The Fight” is really the pinnacle of what you have been doing because you hear those influences.throughout it. There’s a beautiful intro and outro – it’s not a quick track and the intricate indie rock undertones wonderfully juxtapose the subtle harshness of the story at hand. The lyrics, at face value, differ from the sonic aspect of the song, and it’s really good.

Thank you. You’re totally right – it definitely is an extremely digestible song. It gels very nice and it’s easy on the ears – even if the lyrics do have some intensity to it. That song took a very interesting shape because it started out one way and ended up another. It’s a testament to liking the recording process, because, over time, music starts to change and it takes different shape when there are more hands in the pot. I think “The Fight” is a perfect example of that. It started off one way and then it became something beautiful; a lyrically heavy track, but also instrumentally deep. We’re proud how the lyrics and instruments complement each other on that track.

Is that something that you noticed right away with the song? You say it took some time to become what it is now, so was it always this five-minute-long track with the intro, outro, and story? How did it get to this place?

That’s a good question. I think the track is kind of reflective of who we are as a band. We all come from different musical backgrounds, so it’s very rare that once the song is presented in the way of its skeleton form, that it doesn’t change. It always changes, even every time we play it live, it sounds different. I think that’s like the beauty and the magic of The Mercury Brothers: we’re not playing carbon copy music. “The Fight,” actually, is what comes of that evolution. It definitely a process that kind of unfolded while we played it live, too – we would come up with these new themes so that when we started playing it in the studio, we could try that out and then it just evolved and evolved until it became what it finally was.

And it worked out!

We’re very happy about that… definitely happy with it.

I’m so glad to hear that. And I did wanna ask one more question about “The Fight,” just ’cause I love the artwork for it. The way the ink is edited and the art with the butterfly and the star and the rose way… it’s so cool and it look almost ready to be a tattoo or something. Do you guys think a lot about the visual aspect of the band?

I love what you’re asking me right now because we spend a lot of time on these little details, so thank you for noticing that! Over the last year we have really been like dialing in on what we present in terms of imagery with The Mercury Brothers. I have been designing a lot of The Mercury Brothers imagery over the years and this logo that I had made that you mentioned with the butterfly and the rose and the star… I was looking to create some type of image that had a very old school, campy, almost bumper sticker vibe. With the washed out ink and all, it feels weirdly familiar, you know what I mean? I had been messing around with photoshop and it really sparked a huge creative flare in me. I’ve been super excited to put this logo art out and utilize it with a band. We’ve been using the rose as an image icon for a little while now, even with the songs that we have. so we incorporate the rose quite a bit. Really, I just anted to make something that was vaguely familiar like when you look at like a bumper sticker that says, “This car climbed Mount Washington,” and it’s from like 1999, it’s kind of wonky and campy. I took that vibe and brought it to imagery for “The Fight.”

Photo by Bruce Richards / Graphic from Twin Lights Brewing

That is so cool to hear! I’m so glad that you echoed the sentiment of creating a sort of manufactured, yet honest feeling of nostalgia, because I found that is a consistent trait in all things Mercury Brothers. Even with the name of the IPA that you guys collaborated on with Twin Lights, it’s based on an older song of yours, “East Versus West.” So, this is a West Coast style IPA out of a Jersey brewery and a Jersey band. It dropped in time with “The Fight,” too. How did that come about? When did you know that was what you were going to name the drink? With this whole, super cool scenario, I would love it if you could walk us through it.

[Laughs]. Yeah! That whole experience was probably one of the highlights of my musical experience as an adult. “East Versus West” was brewed by Twin Lights Brewing in Tinton Falls and they are a huge local music supporter. They are just a supporter of the arts, and they’ve created a really cool community space at Twin Lights for such. We had played there before and they mentioned, “We’d love to do a beer for you guys.” We were stoked about it! Some time had passed and eventually we were looking for more ways to move forward as a band. I reached out, sent them a message, and asked. “Hey, I want to circle back to this whole beer idea. We’re gonna release a single called ‘The Fight’ and we want to have a single release show at Twin Lights because it has such a cool, cozy nostalgic vibe.” They were like, “Yes, absolutely. We’d love to host you here.” I had then asked them something like, “Would you guys also be willing to brew us a beer in conjunction with the single release?” Of course, they said yes and wanted to do that, because they are just great as part of a very small, tight knit community down in Asbury. The owners of Twin Lights are huge supporters of art and of us, so they were very much down to do that collaboration.

At first we wanted to make the beer and call it The Fight based off of the single release, but they had thought about it on their own and were like, “We love your song ‘East Versus West.’ It’s one of our favorite songs.” They play it in the establishment, so they had said to us, “We would love to do an ‘East Versus West’ beer – an East Coast style IPA with West Coast hops.” We thought that was actually a way better idea than calling it The Fight [Laughs], so we went with it. Me and Mike from Twin Lights then coordinated back and forth about the design of the beer. I ended up designing the label of the beer with Elena Jara-Williams, which was super cool! Then, to add on top of that, we had this organization get involved for the single release show there. Like the song, it started off as a single release show, but it became something else – something better.

We got this organization involved called The Project Matters. They are a charity organization that supports young artists who are pursuing music. They will provide instruments, lessons, business advice, emotional support, and tons of other stuff. We wanted to bring them into the mix because they’ve helped us out in the past. We kind of hosted this single release show, but it was also the beer release and a charity fundraiser event for The Project Matters.

How amazing! The fact that it all came up organically and close to home both personally and professionally is so wonderful. What was that night like? How was it taking it all in – being able to take a sip of your band’s very own IPA, play on stage, play the new song, introduce it your new era to the community you love, and also know that also some of it is also going to help others at the end of the day?

As a band, we were all obviously extremely grateful for the opportunity that Twin Lights was down to do that for us. We were all super taken back with the support. We had tons of friends and family there, and it was also just really humbling to know that everybody in that room was there to support a variety of different people, you know? People were there to support The Mercury Brothers. People were there to support Twin Lights. People were there to support The Project. The room was just full of love. It felt like everyone was on board with each other and it was very much a collaborative effort. I’d also like to mention that we had The Project Matters there and we were collecting like hats, gloves, scarves, and non-perishable food items to donate to a food bank. We had facilitated an actual donation of an instrument at the show, too, for The Project Matters.

As myself, I was able to kind of link these two people together: a woman who teaches at a school in Elizabeth who had a student that was learning how to play guitar and excelling, but was unable to obtain a guitar. Her name was Debbie and I got her in contact with The Project Matter, and at show, The Project donated the guitar to Debbie. Debbie brought it to the school and they gave the guitar to the student. It was just a big, full circle moment with loads of support and lots of people helping each other out. Music was in the air and it was all very wholesome. We’re surrounded by good people.

You know, Mike, speaking of good people who foster this community, I was going through some of our archives and found that one of our former columnists wrote about The Mercury Brothers five years ago.

Yes. Crazy, right?

That’s another full circle moment, because here we are! At the time, they wrote, “I’ve been listening to their latest cd all afternoon […] I can’t seem to find any flaws in it.”


Hearing that now, five years later and almost six years from the actual record dropping, what goes through your mind? You’ve come so far as a band, especially with “The Fight” and the last year of artistic creation as a unit, but still… we were loving what you were doing way back in 2019, too.

Dude, it’s awesome. We have come a long way as a band and we have played some really special shows. We were so grateful to be surrounded by a supportive community from the start, and I think that comparing that previous Aquarian statement to where we are now…, we are tried and true. We’re a tried and true like little crew of musicians playing the music that we want to play, and what we want to play is what feels good. We play what feels intense and emotional and harsh at some points. We play what we want to listen to. It’s really encouraging to hear that, and even though it was five years ago, it’s what keeps us pushing along, you know? Everything we do feels right and feels very organic and true to us. What more could you ask for?